Why Michael Thomas’ Restructured Deal Means We Probably Won’t Ever See Him in a Saints Uniform Again
I would like to be one of the first to say "thank you" to Michael Thomas for his contributions to the New Orleans Saints.
I'm a huge Saints fan, but I'm also a huge Michael Thomas fan. Even in his rookie season, it was clear that Michael Thomas was "him"—and eventually he would prove it with record-setting play at wide receiver before an injury in the 2020 season opener snowballed in the worst of ways.
Since that injury, following an insane 2019 season that featured an NFL-record 149 receptions for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns, Thomas has only played in 10 games. This means he has missed a total of 39 games over the last three consecutive seasons due to injury.
The Saints drafted Michael Thomas from Ohio State in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Over the next few years, Thomas would earn a huge contract, which was followed by the aforementioned monster season where he set records as the best receiver in the league.
After three injury-riddled seasons and the offseason looming, the Saints and Thomas reportedly agreed to a restructured contract, according to Field Yates at ESPN.
Friday’s negotiations reduced Thomas’ 2023 base salary from $15.5 million to $1.165 million and added a $31.775 million roster bonus for 2024. That roster bonus will be guaranteed on March 17 of this year. Thomas is under contract through the 2024 season.
So, what does this mean?
I can tell you that if you're a Saints fan who is hoping to see Michael Thomas catching passes in a Saints uniform when (and if) he gets healthy, I would hang tight on those hopes.
The reported deal more than likely signals that the Saints are looking to make a move on Thomas when it comes to his future in New Orleans a lot sooner than later.
The roster bonus deadline means the Saints likely will make a decision on Thomas' long-term future with the club sooner rather than later. The roster bonus would represent a huge financial commitment to a player who has missed 39 games the past three seasons because of injury.
After the Saints play their final regular season game vs. the Panthers on Sunday in the Superdome, the 2022 season will (finally) be behind the team as they look ahead to the future of an organization that still hasn't identified the successor to Drew Brees at quarterback.
For what it's worth, the team's efforts to solidify Sean Payton's replacement at head coach is also shaky at best after Dennis Allen definitely underperformed expectations in his first season on the job.
As for Thomas, he will likely land with another team as he showed that he was still one of the top players at this position when he did play in three games to start this past season, grabbing 16 catches for nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns before going down for the year with a toe injury.
Basically, Thomas has been worth every penny of the major contract that he signed going into the 2019 season when he's on the field.
The problem is the last part, as Thomas has missed dozens of games, in the prime of his career no less as the star receiver is set to turn 30 on March 3.
We'll stay close to see what happens next, but you can all but guarantee that we've seen the last of Michael Thomas—arguably the best Saints receiver of all time—in a New Orleans black & gold uniform next season.
"We'll see though."